Britain’s economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.

British GDP expansion halved from 0.4% in Q4 last year to 0.2% in the first three months of 2003 – and would have slowed even more dramatically if government expenditure had not increased 1.4%.

Alarmingly, growth in household expenditure tumbled from 1.1% in Q4 to 0.4% – the slowest rise since the third quarter of 1997. Consumer spending has hitherto been the main driver of economic growth.

Expansion in the service sector slowed from 0.5% to 0.3%, while manufacturing output contracted by 0.1%.

The figures confirm preliminary results released last month. These also showed 2.3% GDP growth compared with the first quarter of 2002 [WAMN: 29-Apr-03].

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff